Medicare: knowing less than I thought I did, but finding where to learn.
I do not usually jump to take a test. However, a kind email invited me to take The Medicare Quiz written and promoted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Many of my patients rely on Medicare, the main provider of health insurance for adults over 65 in the US, and a problem for our nation as our demographics shift to an older population and health care costs rise and rise. (The official Medicare website.)
I felt I should see how much I really knew about this critical program, especially since right now Medicare and its payment structure stands to be affected by the ongoing rollout of President Obama’s healthcare reform act, the Affordable Care Act. Not only that, but Medicare is enmeshed in Washington’s politics and a daily news item. On Monday, the President announced his 2013 budget, and part of the savings he proposes comes from changes in Medicare. Today, Wednesday, Congress agreed to changes in a payroll tax change that somehow also included NOT allowing payment cuts to doctors who take Medicare payments, making many doctors organizations very happy.
So, Medicare is part of our politics and our massive health care spending crisis, and what else do I know?
Turns out, little. I scored 4/10. Devastated. But I did know (or learned) that it is ~15% of our total budget and that 50 million people are insured by Medicare. Somewhat astounding figures.
But, in a way I felt better. The quiz gave me information and I rediscovered the Kaiser Family Foundation website. It has incredible information and educational items, for example on all issues relevant to Medicare or health reform, and their news website that has a section on aging. They have an incredibly clear lecture on the basics of Medicare on their education website and interactive tools throughout their websites that make learning easy. For understanding health policy and Medicare, right now I have nothing better to recommend. (In California, the California Healthcare Foundation provides many helpful resources, too.)
Everyday the news brings a new Medicare gem. Now if I could only understand how Congress works…
Will you take the quiz?
Kaiser news on aging: http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/topics/aging.aspx
Kaiser Family Foundation: http://www.kff.org
Medicare Quiz: http://quiz.kff.org/medicare/medicare-quiz.aspx
California Healthcare Foundation: www.chcf.org